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Fantasy Football Review - QB
The funny thing about fantasy football is that sometimes the best players aren't always the best fantasy players. This isn't always true though, but I have found this often works at quarterback. There is no doubt that Troy Aikman was a great quarterback, he's a 3 time Super Bowl winner and sure Hall Of Famer. But Aikman was a horrible fantasy quarterback, never worthy of a starter(top 12). I consider Brett Favre the best quarterback in the league today, yet he ranks only sixth on my list for fantasy quarterbacks and could easily fall out of the top ten.
Quarterbacks are often a tricky position to pick, especially if you don't get one of the top few. If you don't get Kurt Warner or Peyton Manning, you may be better off watching the rest of the "elite" get picked as you go after the top backs and receivers. This strategy has worked well for me and others I know over the years, but doesn't guarantee success. Only twice have I take a quarterback in the first two rounds, maybe even 3, and one was because Kurt Warner fell to the sixth pick to me last year while the guys I was hoping to get were gone. That move paid off well for me after I grabbed Terrell Owens in the 2nd round and got lucky picking up what turned out to be franchise backs late in the draft. But in my local league, which is very competitive, I waited. I was one of the last 2 to get a quarterback and ended up with Vinnie Testeverde and Steve McNair. While Vinnie did very little for me, McNair had perhaps his best fantasy season. I later was able to pick up Tom Brady in free agency, who wasn't great but did the job as a backup when needed to fill in.
My point is, there is usually a few good quarterbacks to be taken later in the draft. The big name quarterbacks are often coveted and snatched up early and other than the top 2 or 3 plus a few sleepers out of nowhere, quarterbacks often tend to bunch together in fantasy football. My philosophy is if 10 out of 12 teams have picked a quarterback in the first 2 or 3 rounds, you can afford to wait a few rounds before taking your quarterback because they are looking to fill running backs and wide receivers. This allows you to not only have top notch backs and receivers, but decent depth as well. Perhaps a top tight end or defense too. I think I picked up Vinnie and McNair in the 9th and 10th rounds last year. I didn't win the league but I did make the playoffs. The guys who picked Warner and Manning can't say that. This strategy isn't for everyone, doesn't always work and will backfire, it has for me and it did for another player in my league who waited on Trent Green last year. But the players are there, you just have to get the right one. That is why I often get 2 very quickly when I do go this route of strategy.
1. Kurt Warner
Warner and the Rams offense is a fantasy league monster and Kurt is easily the number one quarterback. The Rams have been the number one scoring and passing team in the league for the last few years and Kurt Warner is a big part of that. He is sure to get over 30 passing touchdowns, perhaps 40. Warner will throw for a lot of yards as well and all that makes the fantasy points add up quickly. The biggest concern is his health, but if he stays healthy there is no doubt Warner will be the top fantasy quarterback. Warner is easily a first round pick, most likely top 5.
2. Peyton Manning
If anyone can take the number one spot from Warner it would be Peyton Manning. Like the Rams being the top offense in recent years, the Colts have been number 2. Manning will throw 25-30 touchdowns, and could throw 35. Manning is a safer pick because he is more durable than Warner, but doesn't quite have the upside Warner has in raw fantasy stats. Manning has also been more prone to throw interceptions. Manning also is a first round pick, most likely top 5.
3. Jeff Garcia
Here is where the rankings fall off a little bit in my opinion. I feel funny ranking Garcia this high, but he has earned it and has the most potential to put up big numbers over the next few guys. He is one of those sleepers that came out of nowhere 2 years ago to put up big fantasy numbers that I referred to above. Garcia plays in a system and team that has a proven track record for good fantasy quarterbacks, following Steve Young and Joe Montana. He is the leader of an up and coming 49er team and has a strong supporting cast. Garcia is more likely to add a couple touchdowns rushing as well. Garcia has a small frame and is very aggressive. It's always a concern he'll get seriously hurt but so far he has avoided injury. I'm concerned about this because sooner or later it'll catch up with him. I look for Garcia to go late in the first round in most drafts, maybe second round.
4. Dante Culpepper
Culpepper seemed to have an off year last year but was still a good fantasy quarterback. Culpepper gets the nod over McNabb mainly because he has a better supporting cast, throwing to Randy Moss will do that for you. He will also add a few rushing touchdowns and if the Vikings play like last year, he'll add lots of yards trying to catch up in games. Culpepper no longer has Chris Carter to throw to, but still has plenty of weapons with Moss, Derrick Alexander, and Byron Chamberlain. Culpepper is a big boy so injury isn't a big concern. He was considered by many to be the top QB last year going into the season, but when the Vikings flopped he didn't quite put up the numbers many predicted. The main reason I put Garcia ahead of him is because the Niners are a better team. Culpepper is a mid first round to mid 2nd round pick.
5. Donavon McNabb
To me McNabb is right there with Culpepper and Garcia. He has a better team than Culpepper, and arguably better than Garcia, but he doesn't have near the supporting cast. There is no Randy Moss or Terrell Owens on the Eagles. In Philly, McNabb does it mainly by himself. He'll still put up good numbers passing and terrific rushing numbers as he leads the Eagles to the playoffs. McNabb is also a mid 1st to mid 2nd round pick in most drafts.
6. Brett Favre
Brett Favre is the best quarterback in the NFL in my opinion, but only 6th in fantasy leagues. The Packers like to throw in the red zone so that is a tremendous bonus for picking Favre. But while Favre is still mobile, he won't get a lot of rushing TD's. The Packers don't want to risk getting Favre hurt and have a good hard runner in Ahman Green. Green Bay's weather is well known, and while Favre normally excels in the awful Wisconsin weather, it hurts passing stats. Favre is in a class of his own in fantasy football, not quite up with the above players but a notch ahead of those below. It's hard to say where Favre will go in the draft. Last year he fell to rounds 3 and 4, but was coming off a down year. Despite bouncing back last season, I look for him to fall in that same range, most likely 3rd round. After the top 5 QB's are off the board, don't be shocked to see a short period where they don't go...but it won't last long.
7. Rich Gannon
Gannon leads the next bunch of quarterbacks and is a great example of me waiting on a QB few years ago when I was one of the last 2 to pick up a quarterback. I had him pegged in my predraft and got him and he led me to the playoffs. In the two years since, he has put up good numbers but was taken way too early. Gannon has too Hall Of Fame receivers at his disposal in Jerry Rice and Tim Brown, both of whom have plenty of gas in their tanks. He also has solid backs and tight ends to throw too. Gannon isn't going to light it up every week, but he should be consistent and throw in a few big games. He is also good for a few rushing scores. He also won't throw for a lot of yards. He should be a solid QB to give you positive points most weeks and not kill you throwing interceptions. His age is a concern, but he stays healthy despite his age and hits he takes.
8. Steve McNair
I have McNair ranked 8th but he is a risk. He always seems to be hurt and I look for Eddie George and the whole Titan team to bounce back this year. The better Eddie runs and the better the Titans defense is, the less McNair will throw. The good news is if all that is true, and now that McNair finally seems healthy, he may play the whole year and be productive every week. He was very solid last year, but at times it was unknown whether or not he would play. I sat him one game that I heard he was to sit, he played and scored 4 touchdowns and I lost that week. Even with George running well and the defense playing solid, McNair has been a good fantasy quarterback when he has stayed healthy.
9. Brian Griese
If you get the Brian Griese of two years ago you will be elated. If you get the Brian Griese of last year then you will be frustrated. Griese has plenty of weapons, Rod Smith, Ed McCaffery, and Shannon Sharpe. McCaffery got hurt in the first game last year and was out for the year and Sharpe was in Baltimore, so that is two new weapons for Griese. Though they struggled at times last season, Denver seems to run the ball well too, which will help open passing lanes for Griese. Griese has also been injury prone and has had problems in his throwing shoulder. It is a make or break year for him, but all signs so far show he will be fine. Mike Shannahan's offenses are usually good for at least 26 touchdown passes, but the question is will Griese be in to throw them all. Because of all of this his stock may drop some, but sooner or later a team needing to draft a quarterback will jump on him.
10. Aaron Brooks
Brooks came out of nowhere two years ago to put up decent fantasy numbers while leading the Saints to their first ever playoff victory, only to slump last year. Brooks has a rocket arm and good receivers to throw too. He is also a great runner sure to run in plenty of TD's. My concern with him is I don't have a lot of confidence in the Saints, Brooks was mistake prone last year, and his mouth has been bigger than his game. The latter part is probably what knocked him down a couple of spots, but his contract beef could catapult him up too because he feels he has something to prove.
11. Drew Bledsoe
Drew Bledsoe is another one I wasn't sure where to rank. He has been a good passing quarterback for years, but hasn't been a top flight fantasy quarterback for more than a few years. This is the first time in a couple years I've considered him as a starter and going by the drafts, others felt the same way. Moving from New England to Buffalo won't help him with the weather, but he does have better receivers to throw to with Eric Moulds and Peerless Price. The best thing about Drew Bledsoe is after losing his starting job and watching his replacement win the Super Bowl, Bledsoe feels he has something to prove. I look or him to do well at the beginning of the year but fall off as the weather turns colder.
12. Brad Johnson
I don't know what it is but I like Brad Johnson. I am ranking him higher than most will, and have done so for the last couple of years. If the past means anything in that department, it would be best to pass on him. But I have a good feeling that Jon Gruden will get the same out of him that he got out of Rich Gannon, expect as many rushing touchdowns. Johnson has some hot competition but he will be Gruden's man. He has to excellent receivers to throw to and is in a proven offense. He may not light up the scoreboard, but he shouldn't make lot of mistakes and put points on the board.
So I basically break the top Quarterbacks down in 5 sections. Warner and Manning. Garcia, Culpepper, and McNabb. Brett Favre. Gannon, McNair, Griese, Brooks, Bledsoe, and B. Johnson.........then the rest. Some of the rest could jump up while some of these guys could fall back. Welcome to drafting quarterbacks in fantasy football. As for our Jay Fiedler, he is a solid backup capable of filling in and putting up good numbers but you don't want him as your starter week in and week out.